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November 27, 2018

Pakistan Open returns to Karachi after 13 years


November 27, 2018

KARACHI: After cricket and golf, it’s squash’s turn to make a comeback as Karachi slowly but surely regains its status as a major sporting hub.

The city hosted the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final early this year and the US$300,000 UMA-CNS Open – an Asian Tour golf tournament recently. Starting tomorrow (Wednesday) it will begin staging the prestigious Pakistan Open Squash Championship here at the DA Creek Club.

It is for the first time in 13 years that the Pakistan Open – once counted among the leading tournaments on the international squash circuit – will be played in Karachi. The event was last staged here in the summer of 2005 when Frenchman Thiery Lincou defeated Australia’s David Palmer in the final to win the coveted crown.

Egypt’s former world champion Karim Abdel Gawad headlines a stellar cast in the US$53,000 which will be played from November 28-December 2. The women’s Pakistan Open will be played concurrently carrying a prize basket of US$20,000.

“We can say with a lot of pride that our efforts to bring major international action back to our country are now paying off,” said Jahangir Khan, the man behind the return of the Pakistan Open to Karachi. The squash legend, who won the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Open in Karachi, is chairman of the tournament’s organising committee.

Despite security concerns which have over the years kept international sports persons away from Pakistan, the event’ organisers have managed to attract 48 international players from 13 countries for the Pakistan Open events.

In the 24-man draw of the main event, Egypt’s Gawad is the top seed. Ranked No. 9 in the world, Gawad was placed at No.1 in the international rankings last year. He also won the 2016 World Open in Cairo. Peru’s Diego Elias, currently ranked No. 11 in the world, is the second seed. There are several other leading players from Malaysia, Mexico, Qatar, Spain and England featuring in the tournament.

Unlike the past when the Pakistan Open used to be dominated by local players, the domestic challenge isn’t strong enough.“Over the years we have lost ground and the idea behind holding such events is to help our player regain our country’s lost glory in the world of squash, says Rashid Ahmad, secretary of the Sindh Squash Association who is also the tournament director. “We hope that squash fans will turn up in big numbers to watch the Pakistan Open.”

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